Chris Fehler wasn’t out to build an overlander. He had a 2010 Hemi-powered Ram 1500 4×4 and wanted to convert it into something that could take him further into the great outdoors. Chris told us: “I love exploring the great outdoors, getting out and seeing the wild side of the world. Sometimes dirt roads are the best way to do that. Dirt roads often lead to the most beautiful places.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
To reach those faraway places, Chris decided to build what he called “an off-road camper”. The 2010 Ram 1500 was already a beefy 4×4 pickup with robust power. You don’t have to get carried away. It just needed a few upgrades and extra equipment to make it the reconnaissance vehicle he wanted.
First, the powertrain was strengthened and upgraded. Then the suspension system was raised to allow for more ground clearance and bigger tires. New shaft gears were implanted to help the larger meat turn better. Lights were fitted all around to give Chris a bright field of view when the sun went down, and a sturdy front bumper with a powerful winch provided security for self-recovery.
The finishing touches included a TopperLift with the Weekender Camper package that transformed the 2010 Ram 1500 into an off-road-ready pop-up camper. A dual battery system with an isolator and a 1400-watt inverter helped make it even more homey. Two 6-gallon fuel cans, a Ditch Pig kinetic recovery rope, and a set of four traction boards are just a few of the items that complete the onboard inventory of essential off-road reconnaissance equipment.
For a deeper look at Chris Fehler’s custom 2010 Ram 1500, read on, as we took tons of photos and had the chance to see the truck in action at the 2021 Four Wheeler Overland Adventure.
Chris Fehler built his 2010 Ram 1500 4WD pickup truck to better enjoy the outdoor wonders of Utah and beyond. A TopperLift with Weekender Camper Package offers expandable and spacious accommodation options that are perfect for overlanding. In addition, the build includes power mods such as a Carven exhaust system, S&B cold air intake, DiabloSport Trinity tuner, and an electric fan change to keep the Hemi V-8 cool while it does its job. Extra tranny fluid and oil coolers were added to keep things cool.
The set of new A-arms and their mounting brackets give the front suspension a 4-inch increase in lift height, while allowing Chris to reuse the stock front shocks. The front sway bar stays loose during off-road adventures, but can be reconnected for those long hours on the highway.
A Chrysler 9.25-inch solid rear axle sits under Chris’s 2010 Ram 1500 and is loaded with a factory limited slip differential with a 4.56 ratio ring-and-pinion kit from Nitro Gear. A coil lift kit and load adjust HD shocks provide 2 inches of additional height to the rear suspension.
The power splitter in Chris Fehler’s 2010 Ram 1500 is an NVG 243 part-time transfer case with a ratio of 2.72:1 in the low range. The NVG 243 features electric shift on the fly, a convenience Chris finds useful as the Ram sees rapid changes in terrain. It’s his truck for going out and his truck for going to work.
Adding to the already quite capable traction formula of the 2010 Ram 1500 4×4 is a set of aggressive 35×12.50R17LT Falken Wildpeak M/T tires. The 4-inch lifts in the front and 2-inch rear suspension provided all the clearance needed to run the taller rubber.
The full-length Dee Zee nerf bars on the 2010 Ram 1500 provide a step for non-slip entry and exit into the cab, as well as protection from rocks and other offensive obstacles on off-road trails. The Ram 1500 is by no means a rock crawler, but it has been on some of the most remarkable off-road trails in Utah and Colorado.
Among the many off-road lighting accessories on Chris Fehler’s 2010 Ram 1500 are several auxiliary lights. These include the dual (passenger side pictured) LED ditch lights mounted in the lower corners of the windshield. Angled outwards and slightly downwards, these two light sources provide excellent illumination of the terrain around the front tires and the road ahead.
A Maxi Trac Trash Caddy hangs from the back of Chris’ 2010 Ram 1500, which provided Chris with a great location to haul trash on the 2021 Four Wheeler Overland Adventure.
A host of LED lights penetrate the darkness, including four LED light pods and an LED light bar. All that brightness and a 12,000-pound-capacity Badland winch are tucked into a stout, 3/16-inch-thick USA steel Chassis Unlimited Manufacturing Octane Series front bumper that pairs well with the 2010 Ram 1500.
Chris Fehler transformed the 2010 Ram 1500 into an outdoor exploration machine. A combination of a sturdy four-wheel drive truck chassis, a strong Hemi V-8 engine, modest performance, user modifications and a different take on the classic RTT with the TopperLift Weekender Camper package. The TopperLift uses actuators that lift the top deck of the truck and the kit includes three side panels and the Weekender back (not shown). Zippered side panels provide ventilation and easy access to side loads.
2010 Ram 1500 4×4 build specs
- Owner: Chris Fehler
- Stump Site: Heber City, Utah
- Construction time: 1½ years
- Engine: 5.7 liter Hemi V-8
- Transmission: 545RFE five-speed automatic
- Transfer case: NVG 243
- Low range ratio: 2.72:1
- Creep ratio: 37.2:1
- Front Axle/Differential: Chrysler 8.25in, 4.56 Speed/Open
- Rear axle/differential: 9.25 inch solid axle, 4.56 gears/limited slip
- Front: 4-inch lift, stock shocks
- Rear: 2-inch lift, load-adjusting coil-over HD shocks
- Tyres: 35×12.50R17LT Falken Wildpeak M/T
- Wheels: cast aluminum
- Controls: stock
- Lighting: LED pods, LED light bar, ditch lighting
- Cool stuff: Badland Apex 12,000-pound capacity winch, two 6-gallon fuel cans, Ditch Pig kinetic recovery rope, four traction boards, TopperLift with Weekender Camper package, DiabloSport Trinity tuner, electric fan change, auxiliary transmission and oil coolers